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Yeast missing sex genes undergo unexpected sexual reproduction
Date:5/24/2009

By examining and defining the structure and functions of the mating-type genes in yeast, Reedy learned that forms of Candida yeast undergo meiosis but generate offspring of several types. About two-thirds have the classic 50:50 division of chromosomes from the split parent cell, but a third of them have an extra chromosome or even double copies of all chromosomes.

"What we found is that the sexual cycle has a new way to create genetic diversity, and it provides a unique vantage point from which we can explore the mechanisms of sexual reproduction," Reedy said. "This provides a new way to study sexual reproduction and how chromosomal abnormalities arise."

Heitman said that Candida's meiosis without meiotic genes may be what gives rise to the progeny with unusual numbers of chromosomes. "Or maybe the genes were lost for a reason, to provide a route to genetic diversity," Heitman said. "Or maybe these differing types of progeny are the unfortunate consequence of undergoing meiosis without the machinery that species normally have when they reproduce sexually."

Humans, too, have their share of oddly paired chromosomes. "Experts estimate that about 10 to 30 percent of human eggs or fusion products may be aneuploid, with chromosomes from mother and father not paired exactly one to one, but the great majority of those fusions of sperm and egg don't make it to the implantation and pregnancy stage," Reedy said. "That's why it is important to find models like this, so that we may shed light on related human conditions."


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Contact: Mary Jane Gore
mary.gore@duke.edu
919-660-1309
Duke University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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